The Premise. Technology is fabulous. Alas, we still do not have flying cars, but if we do you can bet they’ll be connected to our smartphones. In the meantime, car manufacturers are focused on connecting gravity-bound automobiles.
The Product. Truvolo is a small device which plugs into your car’s data port along with a smartphone app that collects data from the device and sends it to a secure cloud-based platform. The device, which plugs into a car’s on-board diagnostics (OBD-II) connector can clue you in to problems, help optimize gas mileage, and send alerts for unsafe driving. Being connected, it also provides several car-related services such as regular maintenance reminders, alerts when it’s time to fill the gas tank, alternate routes when traffic is heavy and an organization system which helps account for trips for business and separate them from personal travels.
The Pitch. Jaideep Jain, co-founder and CEO lays out the need for Truvolo in a straightforward video in which he also explains that the project was inspired as his son approached legal driving age. He thinks of Truvolo as “the place to go for everything car-related.” He explains that Truvolo can help make you and a safer driver by providing feedback on driver performance in addition to location information. He claims that in the future, Truvolo will even be able to block texting while driving. Other than the video, the campaign on Indiegogo features a link to the various press Truvolo has garnered to date in addition to some partial screen shots of the app.
The Perks. This project has many, many reward tiers starting at $30 for the most basic level of support with a corresponding reward of a Truvolo tee and letter of thanks. The first 150 people to donate $89 can become either an “early bird” or “beta tester” of the Truvolo device and app, with beta testers receiving the product about two months in advance of other audiences. Other tiers escalate to increasing amounts of product and rewards which include dinner with the founders (transportation excluded) and for $6,000 you can even become a “development partner.” According to the posted project schedule, units will complete beta testing in May and start shipping to Indiegogo supporters in June 2014.
The Potential. While there’s no doubt in the potential for a new connected standard for future vehicles, the concrete benefits to a product like Truvolo remain somewhat unclear for now. Similar products like Zubie and Automatic are already available in the market and it’s difficult to see how Truvolo will differentiate itself. Most people already know how to be safer drivers — slow down, use caution, stop fully at stop signs, etc. But there’s something to be said for hard evidence. If Truvolo can’t leverage that to change driver behavior, it may be seen as just an expensive way to remind yourself to get an oil change.